News & Politics

A Guy Who Bombed Out of Journalism Found a Famous Buried Treasure

Former Georgetown student Jack Stuef embarrassed Wonkette and BuzzFeed, and left the news business. Then he found Forrest Fenn's famous chest.

This is not the actual treasure. Image via iStock.

Tens of thousands of people have searched for Forrest Fenn’s buried treasure. Some have died. Fenn, an art dealer and writer from New Mexico, announced in 2010 that he had hidden a chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains filled with artifacts worth more than a million dollars. This past June, he confirmed his treasure had been found. He died September 7. Later that month, a Medium post authored anonymously by someone who said they’d found the treasure offered photographs of it as proof.

On Monday, Outside reported that “The Finder” is Jack Stuef. Stuef has since put his name on his Medium page and addressed a lawsuit against him filed by an apparently disappointed treasure-hunter, which he describes as “frivolous.”

Before his adventures as a treasure hunter, Stuef enjoyed some adventures in the field of journalism that didn’t end nearly as well. Stuef edited the satirical Georgetown Heckler while he went to university in DC. There, he was obliged to attend a forum after students were outraged by what the Hoya described as “articles deemed racially insensitive.”

Stuef went on to contribute to the Onion, The Cut, Wonkette, and BuzzFeed. As Daniel Barbarisi reports for Outside, those last two stints led to some significant trouble in journo-land: Stuef left Wonkette after he wrote a piece about Trig Palin so cruel that it brought his tenure there to a close in 2011. The following year, Stuef wrote an article about the cartoonist Matthew Inman that led to an apology from BuzzFeed.

“I don’t think those were giant incidents,” Stuef tells Barbarisi. “I regret them, but I don’t think about them very often. It was a long time ago now.” He left journalism and went to medical school before becoming a full-time treasure hunter, Outside reports. That decision appears to have worked out great for him.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.